MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — Nearly 1,000 homeowners in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park have been identified as eligible for assistance in the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement announced this year, two banks reported Sunday at a community meeting.
The announcements about how the housing settlement will affect Prince William County came at a community meeting sponsored by Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), which has been pressing banks to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in Prince William County to compensate for the devastation caused by the wave of foreclosures.
In Virginia, Prince William County was particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. The county alone has had more than 16,000 foreclosures since 2004, representing more than 10 percent of all homes in the county.
At Sunday's meeting, Bank of America representative Andrew Plepler said 435 households in Prince William that have Bank of America loans are eligible to have the principal reduced on their mortgages. The average reduction will be $90,000.
Plepler said another 234 homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage — that is, the homeowner owes more than the home is worth — are eligible for refinancing under the settlement, which would reduce monthly payments by about $300 a month.
JP Morgan Chase representative Rebecca Mairone said 165 JP Morgan customers are eligible for principal reduction and another 100 are eligible for refinancing.
The banks said they will be reaching out to eligible homeowners in coming months, and want to work through VOICE to reach out to those customers.
VOICE has lobbied for loan modifications and other changes to help affected homeowners. It estimates that the county alone needs anywhere from $300 million to $500 million to fix the damage caused by the foreclosure crisis. Meanwhile, the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement — which five national banks, including Bank Of America and JP Morgan, agreed to — would provide just $480 million to all of Virginia.
"What has been done so far is not enough," said Rev. Clyde Ellis, a Woodbridge pastor who helped establish VOICE. "I will accept it as a good first step."
Ellis said he wants to leverage Prince William County's pivotal role in the coming elections — the county is traditionally a swing county in Virginia, and Prince William is expected to be a swing state in the presidential election — to elevate the issue of foreclosures and bring in money to revitalize affected communities. Another VOICE rally is scheduled for October.